Many HR professionals I talk to, talk enthusiastically about “social media”. After all it’s the hottest thing to talk about! Some of them have implemented a Facebook for the Enterprise – to help people communicate. In fact on a visit to a toilet in a client facility, I saw posters inside the toilet saying “XYZ – let’s talk on our social media platform”! Or some have started a LinkedIn group for posting jobs. Or some have web-based discussion forums (where apparently no one talks!). Or some are experimenting with Yammer or its other brethren.
Given my interest in this area, I often have two simple questions – “Why are you doing this?” and “How do you know you are meeting your stated objectives?”. Simple questions, but elusive answers. More often that not, I find that the people driving these initiatives are not establishing clear objectives and ROI measures. “It’s a fun initiative, and we need to do to engage large Gen-Y population!”, says one or the other – “LinkedIn & Facebook are other ways to spread news about career opportunities.”
But, businesses don’t run that way. How hard can it be to credibly work out how the savings from getting candidates from social media channels, rather than paying off headhunters. Or making reasonable estimates of time saved on designing communications and doing it, with the launch of a social communication / collaboration program. What stops HR from running a short survey asking employees how they are benefitting from tools like Yammer or Jive for instance. Or checking on a small sample of employees to find out how much less time they are spending searching for information. By collecting data this way and making reasonable assumptions, it’s quite easy to work out credible estimates of the ROI of these initiatives.
Establishing goals, KPIs and tracking performance is the most common management technique of all. Then why are we not doing the same for enterprise social networking initiatives! We simply can’t expect senior management and employee to buy-in into these initiatives, if we don’t manage these programs just like we manage other parts of the business. And without proper management, we can’t expect these initiatives to be anything more than “yet another thing from HR.”
How has your experience been? How have you addresses these situations?